Spend your provincial vote wisely — for Toronto

[attach]4753[/attach]The provincial election on October 6 is a chance for our voices to be heard. Every candidate who knocks on our door wants our vote. That’s good because we have it to give — but please don’t give it away for free.

In Canada, provincial governments control much of what a city like Toronto can or cannot do, so the wrong provincial government can have a drastic effect on us. And conversely, the right government can have a boosting effect.

Our area of Toronto, and the city as a whole, could use some attention from our provincial government, whether we end up with the same government or a new one. In the least, we need a government that is going to help Toronto with completing the Eglinton Crosstown LRT; removing the Ontario Municipal Board’s influence; building new infrastructure for the 2015 Pan Am Games; and uploading the services downloaded onto the city in the late 1990s, which are at the root of the city’s structural deficit.

We need our government to do this while reducing a record $240 billion debt and a growing deficit, mending an ailing economy and building more infrastructure than any government has in 50 years. A tall order but it must be done with drive and sensitivity so we maintain our social cohesion and quality of life.

We should spend our votes and spend them wisely. Our votes work as our democratic agent, our cooperative voice. Our votes are influential. Our votes inspire less fortunate countries to rebel against autocracy. Our votes can change things.

There are those who do not exercise their right to vote. They feel the system is corrupt or the politicians never get anything done.

I obviously cannot agree and would venture to say, our electoral system may not be working to its best because people who think like that are not voting. The system works best if everyone takes part.

Last municipal election we were celebrating a 50 percent turnout at the polls. In 2007, 50 percent of voters took part in Ontario elections. In May, we enjoyed just over 60 percent voter turnout for our federal election.

That still leaves 40–50 percent of voters out of the picture, not joining the respective discussions on the city, provincial or federal levels.

If one doesn’t cast a ballot, one doesn’t own the right to gripe, that’s for sure. There is more at stake though.

To boast the strength and diversity in all of our electorate, we need all votes to be cast.

To give more stability and legitimacy to our elections, and to have more people paying attention, holding those elected accountable, it is vital to have every possible voter engaged in the decision — making that subtly affects everyday life so deeply.

In Australia, if you don’t vote a fine is put on your tax bill — do we really need to go that far to inspire participation?